he Royal Dublin Society and The Irish Times have joined to relaunch the Boyle Medal, presented over the past 100 years as an acknowledgement of excellence in scientific research. A new £30,000 research bursary has also been created under this programme.
The Medal was inaugurated by the RDS in 1899 to recognise "scientific research of exceptional merit carried out in Ireland" and during its first century 32 Medals were presented to some of Ireland's leading scientists. It takes its name from one of Ireland's most famous scientists, Robert Boyle (1627-1691), who is described as the father of chemistry.
The RDS and The Irish Times decided in the Medal's centenary year to reconstitute the Medal Award and to include the Bursary. Announced in November 1998, and first presented in September 1999, the Bursary provides much-needed funding to sustain a three-year research effort by a graduate or postgraduate student.
The key to the award is that the student works directly under the recipient of the Boyle Medal, an Irish based scientist acknowledged by international peers to be contributing at the very highest level to the advancement of scientific knowledge.
Under the new programme, the Boyle Medal will be presented every two years. The award in 1999 was given to a scientist working in Ireland, Prof Tom Cotter of University College, Cork in acknowledgement of his extensive research into programmed cell death, apoptosis.
The 2001 award will be given to an Irish-born scientist working abroad. The decision to provide an award for Irish scientists working outside Ireland was taken to mark the undoubted success many have had on a world scientific stage. The award programme will then continue, alternately giving the Medal to a scientist working in Ireland then abroad.
The £30,000 Bursary is only granted to the scientist working in Ireland and so will be given once every four years. The money, paid in the form of £10,000 per annum over three consecutive years, will not actually go to the Boyle Medal recipient but will be available to fund a research student working under the medal-winning scientist.
The researcher who wins the Medal and Bursary need not be Irish-born but must be involved in research work here and must be in a position to continue to work with the student over the three year life of the Bursary. In this way our best students will be able to ensure continuity of study under an acknowledged leader in Irish research.
The 2001 award will be the first for an Irish-born scientists working outside the island of Ireland. No bursary is provided for this researcher as their work does not take place there. Only those researchers working overseas can be nominated for this award.
Scientists may not nominate themselves for the award. Applications must come from the president or head of a college, faculty or research institute. Nominations may also come from the managing director or head of research function within a company on behalf of an employee or from the secretary of a professional body. The nomination may be made by the individual's host organisation or any Irish organisation to which he/she has links.
A two-part judging process follows with an initial judging round producing a shortlist of no more than five individuals. An international panel of independent judges will then be selected on the basis of the shortlist and these peers will in turn select the winning scientist.
Details of how and when to apply are provided here